Everyone’s made something fun and crafty to coordinate with a theme-whether it’s something basic like green eggs and ham for a Dr. Seuss party or maybe even a St. Paddy’s day celebration to character shaped cakes for a birthday party. Sometimes we’ll take a picture and proudly post it on Pinterest or on our blog hoping that others will like it, share it, and just maybe… it will go viral. Rarely do we package and brand our creations into uber professional graphics worthy of the time we spent creating them. Are we selling ourselves short? In a word: YES.
I love stories of good things happening to good people, especially through the magic of Going Viral online. But is it really magic? Is it smarts, talent, and strategy? Is it pixie dust? Maybe it’s a little bit of all of the above. My new favorite Cinderella story (no pun intended) is that of Cody Winfrey–an unknown (until recently) mixologist from Spokane, Washington who became an overnight web sensation by branding his incredibly talented mixology skills in his Cocktails by Cody Disney themed cocktail line and posting them on the web. We can learn a lot about branding from Cody’s recent success. Let’s explore.
Lesson 1: Turn your skills into your personal brand.
Bippity-Boppity-Boo! No, we don’t need a fairy godmother to turn our skills into our personal brand. We just need to pinpoint something that we do well and can share with others (ex: recipes, crafts, advice/wisdom). Cody Winfrey did this by simply taking his very creative cocktail recipes and making beautiful recipe graphics. So, simple, and yet so brilliant! How did this come to be? According to Innlander magazine, Winfrey was having trouble getting bartender gigs, so he decided to set himself apart from the crowd by creating a portfolio of his signature drinks. He called upon his his favorite childhood movies as inspiration and the Disney-themed cocktails were born.
Lesson 2: Use consistent messaging, layout, and logo to help people identify your brand and create loyalty.
Winfrey enlisted the help of a graphic designer friend, set-up a professional photo shoot complete with white background, and created beautiful recipe card graphics of his drinks. They all have his signature logo, cocktail image, coordinating Disney character, recipe, and cocktail name. The consistent design allows them to be easily recognizable as those recipes from Cocktails by Cody, while the cocktail colors coordinate with the Disney characters providing an eye-catching and visually appealing recipe that you can’t wait to try. Having an easily identifiable brand helps increase user loyalty because people are more likely to repin and share brands they recognize, enjoy, and respect.
Lesson 3: Use social media tools to create awareness, engagement, and stickiness.
Winfrey used two main social media outlets to promote his cocktails: Facebook and a blog on Tumblr. Upon posting his first round of recipe cards, he tagged #TipsyBartender, a very popular (not always PC) web series. Not only did the Tipsy Bartender take notice, but so did the very popular Disney food blog www.DisneyFoodBlog.com as well as Buzzfeed. If you look back at the early February posts on Cocktails by Cody Facebook page, you can see how his brand took off and feel the excitement as Cody shares his reactions with his fans.
Lesson 4: Find a niche that has a strong affinity and following like Disney.
This will not only help your brand find a following but if you also hold that affinity, it will help make your product creation easier (ex: write what you know or love). This is exactly what Cody did. A lifelong Disney fan, his Disney cocktail collection was a natural fit. Cody told Innlander magazine, “The great thing about Disney is that everyone has an almost spiritual connection with some character,” he says. “Everyone has a favorite movie, everyone has a favorite character, everyone has a favorite world. So I knew that it would resonate with people in some way.” Finding a strong niche market, will also help when it time to promote your brand, since you can promote to a wider fan base.
Lesson 5: Strong product branding cuts not only through the clutter but enables audiences to take notice and take you seriously!
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